27-Jul-2011 -- I was on a 4-month cycling trip around south-east Europe and the Middle East back in the summer of 2011. I was on my way from Georgia to Azerbaijan. The road I took towards Lagodekhi and the Azerbaijani border passed by 42N 46E in a distance of approx. 12 km. At that time this was one of the two unvisited Georgian degree confluences on dry land.
From the aerial footage I'd looked at I devised a route that followed the Avaniskhevi river for almost 9 kilometers in a northwestish direction, then turns southeast along a tributary for another kilometer or so. This is all uninhabited and forested wilderness, and rivers and streams seemed to be the most viable ways to move forward along. Local lore has it that there are wolves, bears, and poisonous snakes in the woods.
My hostst from last night dropped me off at the northernmost edge of the village of Akhalsopeli, which was the best starting point for my hike to the Confluence. From the drop-off point I just followed the river. After a while I found a foot path that circumnavigated some impassable parts of the river bank. Who had made this path? I didn't know. There were only two options, as far as I could tell. Either smugglers on their way to Dagestan, Russia, or hunters. I imagined it were the former, as that was certainly more exciting. Every now and then I found footprints in the sand and scratches from shoes on rocks, and I also found empty cigarette packets and resting places with remainders of food. They couldn't have been there long ago. From then on I payed special attention not to leave any traces myself.
I had to cross the river a couple of times, first by jumping from stone to stone, later by wading through. Then I hit a dead end. The river passed through a narrow gorge forming a waterfall. There didn't seem to be any way to get through there. Also, there weren't any paths leading up the sides of the gorge - they were too steep anyway.
I had a break there and took a refreshing bath by the waterfall, then climbed the rock that formed the gorge. It was easily possible! From that rock I could climb onto a dead tree that had fallen into an optimal position (or maybe was put there intentionally?) just above the waterfall. Then onto another stone and across I was. Went back down to grab my stuff and actually did the crossing in no time and without any problems!
Later I had another break at the inflow of a small tributary. According to the aerial pictures, that tributary came pretty much directly from my destination, 42N 46E, though I was still about 3 kilometers away from it. I decided to follow that little stream, but it turned out to be a dead end for me. The hills left and right climbed steeply and were full of raspberry shrubs. I tried my best but gave up after a couple hundred meters (which equals about an hour of 'walking' in these conditions) and returned to the main river I'd been following (the Avaniskhevi).
It was 6 pm when I got back there and I decided to stay for the night. Pitched tent at a lovely spot on soft soil, cooked some dinner on a large stone in the middle of the river and went to bed not much after 8 pm.
The next morning I found myriads of ants inside my tent. They must have sneaked in through a zipper that wasn't closed properly. Fortunately, they were not aggressive. It took me a while to clean all my stuff before I could continue my hike along the river. It became narrower and faster-flowing but was easier to cross when necessary. Eventually I hit another dead end. A gorge, again, but this time there was no tree and no stone that I could use to climb across. There were still my smugglers' footprints nearby, however I couldn't figure out how they had passed this obstacle.
Also, time was working against me. I'd told my friends in Akhalsopeli that I'd be gone for two days, but unfortunately I hadn't told them what to do if I didn't return in time, or how long to wait before sending for help (dunno if they'd done that at all...).
So I decided to end the expedition here and to return to the village.
Of course, on the way back I was much faster and could phone my friends in the early afternoon to pick me up outside the village.
It was an unsuccessful visit to 42N 46E, but it was a successful adventure nonetheless. I was full of scratches and bruises, and I was feeling very happy.
Continued at 39N 48E.